The Covington Sturgis Road Complex at 1091 Benton Sevier St., formerly occupied by Baldwin Piano, Inc., will be utilized as an off-site construction facility for modern construction methods that will be used to build Conway's Baptist Health Medical Center.
The complex is 194,100 square feet of industrial warehouse space with a rental rate of $3,750 a month for 12 months, according to online commercial real estate listing service LoopNet.
In November, Baptist first announced plans to build a 200,000-square-foot hospital at United Drive and Exchange Avenue, along the west side of Interstate 40, just south of the Caldwell Toyota dealership.
City officials said Baptist is currently revising the original site plans. The initial plans displayed a three-story medical facility with 100 beds, seven operating rooms and a Level III trauma-center emergency room.
The City of Conway Permits, Inspections & Code Enforcement Department said the Covington Sturgis Road Complex is going to be used to construct prefabricated "pod-like" structures that will be delivered to the construction site.
Main routes from the complex to the construction site are about one mile. City officials said the pods would most likely be delivered via Highway 365.
The pods will consist of bathroom units and sections of patient rooms that can be produced in bulk such as medical headboards that hold medical gases and communication and electrical devices.
Lynn Hicks, assistant director of the permits, inspections & code enforcement department, said the major advantage of using an off-site facility would be the time saved on construction.
"The advantage is, they can go ahead and start that work while the shell is under construction," he said. "It shortens the total time it takes to put it in."
The process will begin with a wooden template, said Bart Castleberry, director of the permits, inspections & code enforcement department.
"After that wooden template is approved at the state and federal level, a metal template will be made and medical headwalls will be manufactured from that," he said.
Volumetric or modular construction produces units, typically made of a steel, timber or concrete frame, that are used for large numbers of identical units, such as hotel rooms or patient rooms.
This method is also commonly used to create factory finished bathroom and kitchen pods within an independent structure. Pods were first introduced to the construction market for hotels and student accommodations.
The City of Conway Permits, Inspections & Code Enforcement Department, consisting of Lynn Hicks, planning review; Ken Eckert, framing and footing; Cecil Corning, HVAC; Lee Hill, plumbing and Zach Castleberry, electrical; will be present during every stage of production to make sure federal, state and local requirements are met, Castleberry said.
"We're not going to go out there when they call us," Zach said. "We're going to go out there everyday to make sure it's right. This is a healthcare facility."
All inspectors have worked a number of years in their respective fields, so whatever we have going up in Conway will be a great product, Castleberry said.
"They're using local people," Castleberry said. "This will be a good thing for Conway."
Final design, construction plans, financing and legal review are expected to be completed in 2014 with construction to follow.
The new Baptist Health Medical Center-Conway is projected to open in 2016.